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Eagles deep-sixed at Goretti

March 26, 1999|By MARK KELLER

It was anything but baseball weather Thursday afternoon. But Hedgesville coach Ben Merica didn't use the chilly, sometimes blustery, conditions as an excuse for the Eagles' 6-5 loss at St. Maria Goretti.

"The conditions didn't beat us here today," Merica said. "They just outplayed us today, did things right when they had to and made the plays."

The Gaels (2-0) had to do things right at the plate in the bottom of the sixth in order to get the win. With one out and trailing 5-4 entering their half of the frame, leadoff hitter Trey Cobb reached on an error. Anthony Sowers walked and Brad Runkles was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Merica went to the bullpen for the second time, replacing A.C. Benner with Chris French. French got Joe Widmyer to ground to third, where Kevin Curry fielded and threw home to force Cobb out. But Derek Herman followed with a two-run single to give Goretti back the lead, 6-5.

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Runkles took the mound in relief of Sowers to start the seventh. John Dunham reached on an error, but French failed to bunt him over to second and struck out.

Runkles got Josh Wishmyer swinging at a third strike in the dirt. Wishmyer took off for first, even though Dunham occupied the base. Dunham, seeing Wishmyer coming, took off for second, where catcher Kabby Everly gunned him down for the final out of the game.

"Some of the seniors said it's taken them four years to beat Hedgesville, so it's great for them," said Goretti coach Bill Fowkes. "It's a great win for me, but it's the kids who get to enjoy it most."

Sowers (1-0) went six innings to get the win, giving up four hits, walking two and striking out five.

"It's tough to get into a groove, because as soon as you get warmed up, you've gotta come back in and get cold again," Sowers said. "I'm pretty happy with how it went. Get rid of that first inning and I'm really happy with it."

The Eagles (2-1) touched Sowers for two runs in the top of the first. Wishmyer walked to lead off the game and Hedgesville starter J.R. Fitzwater hit a one-out homer into the trees behind the short right-field fence.

But Sowers stayed out of trouble until the sixth, when Wishmyer and Danny Dell singled and Fitzwater walked to load the bases. He got Brad Spies swinging before Tony Smallwood's sacrifice fly scored Wishmyer. Monte Spurgeon grounded to short, but Trey Cobb first bobbled the ball, then threw it past first base as Dell and Fitzwater scored to give the Eagles their 5-4 lead.

However, the Gaels' rally rendered Sowers' struggles and Cobb's miscues insignificant.

"We made a few mistakes, but we have the philosophy that someone else is going to pick you up if you make a mistake here," Fowkes said. "We're showing we can pick each other up."

Cobb had an RBI single in the second and Josh Carter had a run-scoring double in the third.

Fitzwater, a senior who has signed with Oklahoma State University, struggled in his first start of the season. He went four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out eight, but walked six.

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